Delta Air Lines is officially leaving Gogo/Intelsat behind on part of its fleet, switching to Viasat‘s Ka-band in-flight connectivity offering on more than 300 single-aisle aircraft. The deal, announced on Tuesday, will see the Viasat kit installed on new delivery and retrofit A321ceo, 737-900ER and select 757-200 aircraft starting this summer.
Viasat’s high-speed satellite-powered technology changes the game for what we can offer. We now have additional capability and next-gen technology to make sure you have a faster and more consistent connection to your favorite sites, including the ability to stream the entertainment of your choice on your flight.– Glenn Latta, Managing Director – In-Flight Entertainment & Wi-Fi
The move is part of what Delta Chief Customer Officer Bill Lentsh describes as the carrier’s efforts to “deliver more personalized in-flight content as well as an ability to consistently provide free, fast, streaming Wi-Fi in the future.”
It also includes the introduction of a new capture portal for customers on board. This transition is one of the foundational blocks needed for Delta to fully control the in-flight connectivity experience, including pricing. Initially the service will still be a paid offering, with free messaging as on the Gogo-equipped planes. But the portal enables more than that. As Latta explains, “It gives us an interface to build on and is a dramatic step toward giving you great connectivity, personalized content and easy-to-use services that will improve your in-flight experience.”
Ekrem Dimbiloglu, Director of Brand Experience – In-Flight Entertainment & Wi-Fi, also reiterated that the carrier is “committed to delivering Free Wi-Fi in the future, and this is a significant step on that journey.” Dimbiloglu also cautions that the transition will not occur overnight; it will take time to get the infrastructure stable and sufficient to handle the transition.
While this shift does move some aircraft away from the Gogo platform it should not be seen as a wholesale abandonment of the 2Ku offering. Latta is clear that the carrier “will work closely with multiple Wi-Fi suppliers, including both Gogo and Viasat” to “pair the right technology with the right fleet.”
Delta has approximately 130 737-900ERs in its fleet and 105 A321ceo, with another 20 on order. The carrier also has 111 757-200s, split between international and domestic configurations. Presumably the domestic layout is more likely to receive the Viasat kit as part of the deal, though Viasat could deliver service today in most international markets where Delta flies the type.
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